Go To:
  • ALT+A Toggle Accessibility Menu
  • ALT+H Home
  • ALT+1 Navigation
  • ALT+2 Main Content
  • ALT+3 Footer

Ask Sam | 12.25.09

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of e-mails from his readers.
Sam Smith at Bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

I'm very frustrated, as I'm sure you are as well. It looks like not only is this season slipping away from the Bulls, but the future as well. There is no way in the world that the Bulls can compete for a playoff spot with the current state of the team, and you know there is no way that Wade or LeBron or Bosh or Stoudemire or Joe Johnson are going to walk into this situation next year and play for Vinny. I can only see one way to turn this around, and I think it's a long shot, to not only save this season, but the future as well. You know what I am going to say don't you? Fire Vinny ASAP and replace him with a big time coach that can make this team better, and attract free agents next year. Forget the interim rout, that will kill the Bulls. Is there a coach available right now (Byron Scott maybe) that can make the Bulls better this year and attract free agents next year?

Kurt Anagnostopoulos

Sam: What, no Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Vinny? This, of course, is the second chapter of the Fire Vinny mailbag after the western trip and the bad losses right afterward to the Nets and Raptors. You get toward the problem. Coaches fired recently have an offset in their contracts, which means what they get paid from their new team they have to give back to their old one, so they essentially have to work for free. Which is why they don’t. Guys like Jeff Van Gundy are happy in TV, and the veteran coaches don’t want interim jobs because you are destined to take on a lot of losses and don’t want them on their record. You can get someone desperate in season, which then can put you farther back because you now are stuck with a new contract. If you made a mistake, don’t compound it. Plus, coaches I have talked to who have some interest in the Bulls generally want to see where the team finishes and what the free agency situation and roster is like before making a commitment. They don’t want the losses of an interim situation on their record and don’t like it as they cannot bring in their own assistants. Plus, there could be some good coaches who become available after the season. The expectation is if things don’t turn around the Bulls will make a change. I’d expect it to be temporary and come from within.

What Berger & Woj are writing is a lot more damning & alarming than what is coming out of the local media, which is to be expected. You all have relationships with the players, coaches, and management to maintain. I don't mean that as a critique, it's simply the way journalism (to the best of my understanding) works. What I was wondering is do you, as someone who is around the team, notice these things, or is (it) exaggerating for the sake of a good story?

Chris Baran

Sam: You refer to stories on Yahoo and CBS Sportsline. The Bulls and Vinny have been getting beaten up pretty badly, which is what happens when a team begins to lose badly and play worse than their predictions. I suspect both had the Bulls in the playoffs and with at least a .500 record. It’s easy to be an assassin from afar when you aren’t around a team. I’ve seen some coverage that fits events into an opinion, namely the Bulls are in disarray and quitting. I don’t exactly see that. I saw references to a layup line and someone laughing. I always get a kick out of this body language thing where writer/psychiatrists learn so much when someone laughs. Ever laugh at work when the stock price tanked? Players hear jokes, too. If someone laughs, does it suggest no one cares? It was interesting after that 35 point blown loss last week. The locker room was quiet, but it was portrayed as a funeral because media decided this was way more serious and fit the story better. It was a bad loss and guys were quiet. I didn’t see any potential suicides. No one was laughing, but because there wasn’t the drama some writers thought was necessary they just put it in. Actually, Noah is having his best ever season, Deng is back to the level of two years ago and Rose is coming out of his injury and has been terrific of late. Taj Gibson was a huge surprise as a low first rounder and is one of the top rookies. So have those guys quit? I’m not saying the team has maximized its potential. Actually, it’s well below where I thought it should be. I suppose we could have overestimated, but in the East this should be a playoff team. It doesn’t look like one now. And I've said from the beginning that would be a step back in the pursuit of free agents. The loss of Gordon has hurt, though he has been injured the last few weeks and the Pistons have been just as bad. Del Negro has contributed by not maximizing his roster and perhaps staying too long with veterans like Miller and Salmons given how well they played last season. When you lose, it’s inevitable the coach is the first to answer. But there’s not chaos as yet around the Bulls. It just fits the story line better. And it’s a better internet headline, which usually has a shelf life of about two hours. So you’ve got to keep finding something new. It's not easy. I saw predictions two and three weeks ago Vinny would be fired within days. A week. If you get it wrong can you keep coming up with new dates until you finally get it? That said, it is bad as anyone who has watched the games knows. And, in the end, it is always the results which determine the outcome.

I was reading on the Noah's quotes saying to reporters that , "if you were my friend, I would tell you a lot of things, but I feel like if I say something it's just going to make things really bad ... I'm not in a position as a player to really talk on that. We're really going through hard times, and I don't want to make it even tougher."

Have you got the feeling the locker room is divided in two? Do you know if there is tension between, say, those who play on a consistent base, and those who don't?

Jacques Hill

Sam: The fans and a lot of the outside media point relentlessly to Vinny because by knee jerk you blame the coach when you don’t know what’s going on around the team. I wouldn’t call it an angry divide as the players tend to get along and you don’t see much anger around the team, though perhaps there should be. But I do think there are guys who look at other guys and wonder why their effort isn’t better. Noah has gone through this before a few years ago with Ben Wallace and end of the bench guys like Adrian Griffin. It was a bad time for Noah as he was playing poorly and out of shape and had no business condemning others, as Skiles reminded him. Noah is playing as well as he can this season, and my take on those comments was it was aimed more at a few guys than the coach. I can guess, though I am not really certain whom he meant. It’s also, in part, what goes on when a team is losing. It often leads to one of those air it out meetings or the coach getting tough. The Bulls don’t have those kinds of players or that kind of coach. I wouldn’t call it quitting, but I think some guys play at a somewhat lesser level.

It just makes me sad because the general population in chicago is one of the most fickle i've seen and now people are calling for vinny to get fired again after 3 or 4 great games where they competed the entire time and beat the hawks on a 7 or 8 game streak. it clearly wasn't vinny's fault. maybe call a timeout slightly earlier in the fourth but overall i thought he tried to stop the momnentum with well placed timeouts and talked from the sidelines a good amount. nothing else you can do. and if the bulls want any shot at the free agency they have to keep him.

Aaron Meister

Sam: Well, that is the minority opinion. But if the Bulls had won that game as they should have if they hadn’t choked down the stretch and short armed everything and panicked going one on one--though there is the issue of Vinny not substituting and the effect that had—it would have been three in a row and a good shot at winning in New York Tuesday with a better start. Then the view would have changed, Vinny would have been safe and with the team close to .500 and well ahead of the pace from last season, Thomas about to return and Rose healthy, and back to talk about fifth. Yes, just one quarter of bad basketball may have changed everything. And then again we were discussing all this a few weeks ago as well. So maybe not.

Not only should VDN be fired but so should Paxson & Forman. Look at the product that is on the floor, you let BG go for nothing, and regardless of his defensive inefficiency he was the only proven scorer, even Deng yesterday got most of his points on lazy layups from the other teams lack of D early on. Yes Tyrus is out, but he is not a serious force like a Amare. Kirk should have been traded when his value was higher, all he does is stagnate the offense. Brad millers knees might be done as his jumpshot is flat. Putting all their eggs in the free agent basket that will provide nothing, mark my words!!! Then VDN does not put the bench in as these guys lose a 35 point lead, at some point you need to pull a skiles or Jackson and empty the bench to make a point before the whole 35 point lead is gone no??? 

Where do you see us going from here? Besides 28 – 54??

David Weiner

Sam: I’ve been getting a lot of rants like this and I noted you mentioned your company name, though I took it out. So things go bad at the company and they fire all the management, right? So whom do the assistants get coffee for? And whom do you ask for a raise? Or if you can have Tuesday off or what is the rule for casual Friday? Only in sports does everyone recommend firing everyone. I hear it with the Bears a lot and always with the Cubs. So who are these guys you are hiring instead? What teams are they running? And if they are so good why aren’t they working? I don’t even think the government fired everyone at GM. And they certainly didn’t fire anyone on Wall Street while giving them a fortune and they almost ruined the world. I appreciate the frustration, but have a less compassion during the recession. The management guys staked themselves on 2010, so there’ll be time for that.

It's not easy to support an Nba team from Italy. It means you have stay awake at night, be tired at work the day after...and thank god for internet because otherwise i wouldn't even know the scoreboard. Well i support chicago bulls since i was 16, in 1992 (no internet...)

i can't stand that shame anymore.

Stop. I saw Tim Floyd coaching, Kornel David playing, Corey Benjamin missing everything, Eddy Curry getting fat but that's too much.

i mean, 35 points? The Kings?

And we are the joke of the league. Everywhere...Happy Christmas

Michele Morandi

Sam: I’d take this more seriously if you didn’t keep electing Berlusconi. Though I do admire his style. I’m sure Howard Stern does as well. I’m not sure you take government seriously, though as I think about it sports is more honest, anyway. But you make a point, which is why some change is inevitable. That loss to the Kings elevated the Bulls to where they hadn’t been and you never want to be, a national joke. Like the Knicks under Isiah, or actually the Knicks most times in the last 30 years, the Clippers, the Cubs. It’s worse than being bad. There are a lot of bad teams. The Raptors and Wizards have way underachieved, but they aren’t being made fun of on national shows. When you get there it piles on. National writers and anchors turn any missed pass or sloppy play into a symbolic event which defines your team no matter how many similar plays go on every game with other teams. When you get there, as we say in this country, you may as well move to Italy. Hey, I’m just kidding. Thanks for the Kornel David mention. It does graphically suggest where things are now if you can reach back for that one. Yes, perhaps you have suffered enough.

Do you think if Vinny put in the bench after they were up 35 psychologically the Kings would have thought it was over as well and we would have kept that large lead. And do you think it is normal to start laughing instead of being mad at a lost like that or am I just going crazy?

Ninab Maradkel

Sam: Laughed because otherwise you would cry? That’s certainly normal. That’s also why I thought the Bulls locker room wasn’t so funereal as the media wanted it to be. There was more stunned disbelief like you laugh and shake your head when you do something stupid and can’t believe it. It’s too amazing to be sad. So if he had put in Jerome James, I guess you could say the Kings might have started laughing and lost focus. I’ll pass that on for a suggestion next time.

Do you feel the time on the bench because of the broken arm will be beneficial to Tyrus? Obviously, he's quite an athlete but you've indicated he might have been difficult to coach. Do you think the extra watching time is likely to change that?

Roy Lobenhofer

Sam: You’d like to think so, but I doubt it. It’s difficult to know what to expect from Tyrus, who has a history of being moody and inconsistent, as we know. Plus, he’s been out a long time and you can’t expect that much quickly, to be fair. I think it will help his ego that there seems such a need for him now and he can be something of a rescue worker. The bigger part, I think, is it’s a big season for Tyrus as a free agent and with trade rumors circulating. I’d question whether he has his legs yet after so much time off, so I don’t know how much he can deliver on a regular basis for awhile. He’ll certainly help and fits with the way the Bulls should play, fast. It’s always a mystery to see how Tyrus will come at and it will be once again.

Do you think Vinny "coaching for his life" and not going to his bench at all (JJ & Pargo specifically) cost the Bulls the game against the Kings? While I generally agree with putting your best players on the floor - especially during the playoffs - I also think leaving in the same seven starters when you're up by 35 does two things:

Tells the other team you are desperatly in need of a win, and make your seven players play scared, because they know you are desperate for a win.

Cameron Modjeski

Sam: I guess you can’t blame Vinny on some level since most of my mail wants him fired. Imagine what his mail says. So it’s natural you do not begin to think about what’s best for the franchise a year or two from now. I’m not sure other teams read those psychological messages during the game. Especially when they have players (Tyreke Evans) apparently planning to grab their private parts later if things go well. After all, how much analysis can they be doing? I also doubt the players read much into that other than I think they got tired, which is natural, and they got anxious when things went against them as they likely did start to think what losing that big lead would mean. Don’t you remember the ’05 Sox gagging for weeks until Cleveland let them off the hook. Once the pressure was off they began to play. But they couldn’t until then. Just because they are pros doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same pressures of failure you do and don’t succumb to it. It’s the great ones who feel it, acknowledge it and then play through it. Sure, more players should have been used, and Vinny acknowledged that finally a day later. It wouldn’t have guaranteed the same players not tightening up at the end. All we know now is only a 40 point lead is safe with this Bulls team.

You wrote in your mailbag "I'm not sure what everyone expects of Rose..."

Let me help fill in the blank.

The guy has the basketball ability to be the best point guard in the league, but he's only been better than average. And, if you look at your depiction of the difference between Kobe and LeBron and apply that to Rose, you'd understand why. "They keep disrespting me going under screens." - Brandon Jennings after 55 point game.The shiny takeaway from this quote is his lack of humility. But, if you dig deeper, this quote illuminates the difference between he and Rose and why I wish we had Jennings over the guy that I'd have sliced my hand to become blood brothers with last year. Jennings felt disrespected that his defender let him take open shots and his revenge was to make him pay. And, on a day he was hot, he made the team pay to the tune of one of MJs most memorable performances: 55pts and the win. He doesn't have that burning desire and fans want to see his will palpable, his desire regardless of result.If we ever want to win, we need a real "franchise player." Unless we strike oil in the draft, the next decade depends on us getting Wade. He's the only player available next year that has the heart of an icon. H. Brill

Sam: Certainly that is an opinion, but it as misguided and blockheaded, Charlie Brown, as I’ve ever heard. I don’t have any issue with people disagreeing with me as it’s only an opinion, but if you see that in Rose you are not paying attention. This kid is truly an amazing player, a terrific competitor who can be one of the top 10 players in the NBA. Because he is a great competitor. Just watch him the last week as the team was collapsing around him and though he believed he should be a point guard and set others up he had to deviate from that just to keep the team in games. He’s about winning and doesn’t care about whether he’s the star or leading scorer. He just wants to win, which is the greatest attribute you can find in a player. Which is why the Bulls have some hope as they have some players like that in Rose and Noah. Plus Rose is skilled and will become a three point threat soon enough. He was hurt and has been, but plays through it as much as anyone in the NBA. This kid is attacked by defenses and is bounced all over the place and doesn’t miss games. If anything, the indictment of the season is having to put Rose in a situation where he has to be a savior to that level. The Bulls should have a shot at the likes of Wade and LeBron only because they have Rose. It’s the best thing the franchise has going still.

(ESPN writer) David Thorpe did a shat where he said A). That Derrick Rose wasn't the Bulls best player. B). That Rose isn't even close to being the Bulls best player and C). Rose wasn't the Bulls best player last year. Your thoughts?

Ian Dannehy

Sam: I know David a bit and he’s an interesting guy, but I would like to know just whom he thinks is better. I’m not saying this is the reason, but Thorpe advises and works with Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas and not Rose. Are you sure you heard that right? He does seem to know his stuff. Not the Bulls if he believes that.

I read your blog and ding ding ding. We have a winner. Or the bulls do. Look at Derrick Rose's game. He will drive at the end of a game and take the last shot. If they lose, he says its his fault even when its probably not. Some might say, that he will never be as good because the bulls went only to .500 in his first season. The previous season they weren't even close and besides, look who Kobe is surrounded with. Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Pao Gasol, and Lamar Odum off the bench.

Michael Szczepocki

Sam: Yes, I agree. This may be what’s wrong with Chicago fans. They are so accustomed to failure of their teams and heroes that they cannot accept they may have a real prize.

Is it a sure thing that Salmons will opt out of his contract? His performance has been awful. I can't imagine him getting more money by opting out. Also, did James Johnson bring the wrong shoes to New York or something? He looks weird being the only one in white shoes.

Shannon Kelley

Sam: After last season and with his strong finish and so many teams with money for free agents in 2010 the assumption was Salmons would opt out of his $5.8 million remaining and go for a long term deal. He still may, especially now that he’s being benched for Kirk Hinrich and doesn’t like it. In a way, Vinny may become the hero of the Bulls season. If Salmons chooses to opt out because he is benched and then the Bulls can sign a free agent like Wade or LeBron and have success, it might be because of Vinny’s lineup move. Think of it. They’d have to build a statue of Vinny next to Jordan’s. Salmons had somewhat of a reputation when he was traded for as a guy who needed to start and might put otherwise. It wasn’t an issue because Deng was out. It didn’t look like an issue once Gordon left. Now we’ll see. Having a poor season thus far and going to the bench may be making him think twice, take the money and wait for 2011. If Salmons doesn’t opt out, the Bulls would have to renounce Tyrus Thomas with their current roster and might not have enough for one maximum free agent given the money for draft picks and to get up to the roster minimum. But there are other players they could deal for expiring contracts, so it’s still early. Johnson did look out of place with those sneakers, but the NBA now allows players to wear whatever shoes they want.

Obviously Salmons hasn't been having such a great season and there is a chance he won't opt out of his contract for 2010. With that said, would a trade of Salmons and Tyrus Thomas for Manu Ginobli make sense for both teams. Financially it works. The Spurs get an energetic power foward in Thomas to play along with Duncan (McDyess doesn't seem to be doing much) and Salmons a SG who can defend (maybe he thrives better in the Spur's system). Like other Bull's fans I would like to see Tyrus pan out with the Bulls, but he would have to be added in the deal to entice the Spurs. With the Bulls lack of a 3-pt shooter and a clutch player, Ginobli makes sense. It would take some pressure off of Rose and Deng on offense. Of course Manu isn't a great defender, but his scoring would help tremendously. In addition, his contract would end in time for 2010.

Asad Torabi

Sam: I don’t think teams think to themselves, “Well, the Bulls players aren’t having good seasons, so let’s take them so the Bulls have a chance to do better.” At least I don’t think so.

Is it me or does Kirk Hinrich for Kevin Martin not seem like a bright idea all the way around. The Kings could benefit by moving Tyreke Evans to the 2 guard and inserting Hinrich into the point guard spot. The Bulls would add length and scoring at the 2 guard with Kevin Martin. Both have similar deals that an even swap would work under the salary cap. I realize Martin is better than Hinrich so if I'm the Bulls I might even think about throwing in a pick or James Johnson.



Jason Lewes

Sam: It’s you. It makes a lot more sense for the Bulls. Martin’s basically a career 20 point scorer and 40 percent three point shooter, and efficient as he gets to the line. They’re fine using Evans with Beno and Udoka for now. I can see them giving up Martin, though I’ve heard if they do they want a high level front court player. Plus, Hinrich’s not a classic point, anyway. They can use Beno that way. Maybe if you throw in Tyrus they’ll begin to talk some and if you take a bad contract. I’ve gotten this one from fans a lot, though Martin seems a bit too valuable at this point.

Which young shooting guard out there as of right now is the best one to trade for? How long till the nets start putting players like Courtney Lee on the block just to blowup and rebuild?

Ryan Mouser

Sam: Lee isn’t exactly a go to guy type of player, though the Nets have been blown up. He is part of what’s left after you blow up. It is a point about so called blowing it up as many frustrated Bulls fans now suggest. You can become the Nets and be worse and it not necessarily being clear you can get much better. Part of the so called blow up scenario is being in the right draft and being lucky and smart enough to make the right pick. There’s no guarantee of either, and we’ve seen that before and it’s been an off and on decade trying to recover.

What is that move Evans made after his basket? Does it have a name? I could only think of the "crotch cradle". I'm guessing that's the sort of move you see on press row a lot. I could see you doing it to a Lacy J. Banks when you got yourself a nice quote from a Corey Carr.

Craig Berry

Sam: I’d never have done it to Lacy, though I think I saw Jay Marriotti do it once to Rick Morrissey. In the shock of that 35-point collapse and Evans taking over and the Bulls unable to stop him, most overlooked Evans going below the belt and cupping his hands in a crude self congratulatory mode. I’m trying to remember if I ever saw Oscar Roberston do that. As Paul Lynde sang, “Kids, I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.” Of course, that was in 1963. And I will never reference Paul Lynde again. OK, look it up.

I attended the Bulls debacle tonight against the Kings. I had my Big Mac half eaten by the end of the 3rd. My
question to you is why does Del Negro continue to let Rose take the
shots at the end of the game? Two years running, he calls the same
play for Rose....an isolation from the top of the key, Rose gets
double or triple teamed, throws up a wild shot, and misses 9 out of 10
times. The other team knows this is coming, and they know Rose will
NOT be passing. I know he will learn from these experiences, but the
Bulls need to win those games, and they would do it by having Deng or
Salmons shoot, guys who are better from the perimeter and who can
handle those situations. Tonight was awful, but I will continue to
watch because I am a fan and want to see this team succeed.



Jeff Grom

Sam: Well, at least you’re being honest. Like a good crash, you really can’t look away. I’d say pass it if someone showed they can make some shots. Certainly Salmons hasn’t. I’d give Deng a shot, though not creating, and the funny part is Rose would rather do that. It’s interesting watching Rose. He really is such a good, earnest kid. He believes in the coach and the veterans and keeps seeking advice. They tell him to run side to side on that bad pick and roll and he does it. He respects authority. Perhaps you’d like him to take over like Michael or LeBron or Kobe and say he’s the best so why listen to anyone. Maybe he’ll go there sometime and maybe it will be better at times. Though on level it’s nice to see a kid who still believes in authority and being responsible and trying to help everyone. I know. What’s he doing trying to succeed in sports these days?

How about Luol Deng for Richard Jefferson? Jefferson is a better 3pt shooter and a better runner to play with Rose. Although a small forward he would be a better fit at shooting guard than Deng and could let Salmons move back to small forward. Deng is a much better fit with San Antonio than Jefferson is and would fit better there than with the Bulls. With Duncan drawing attention in the post and Parker's passing Deng should do very well in San Antonio. They would also get younger. Just to match salaries the Bulls could throw in Jerome James and pick up Finley and Ratliff. All expiring deals and Finley would be a nice veteran influence.

Dave E.

Sam: The Spurs went all in for this year with salary and luxury tax money. It doesn’t look like it’s going to work, so I expect they’ll begin shedding salaries and perhaps rebuilding of a sort. So I seriously doubt they’d want Deng’s much longer deal.

I couldn't figure out why the bulls made some personnel moves with two guards, namely JR Smith and Shannon Brown. They traded for Smith and never gave him a chance to play and really didn't give much of a chance to Brown to show his talents. I saw Brown in the Las Vegas Summer League a few years ago and he looked very good. I was excited when we got him from the Knicks. They both have turned out to be good additions to the Nuggets and Lakers. I just wondered what your feelings were about these two players and why you think they were let go.

Mark Friedman

Sam: It’s easy to look back, but J.R. had so many issues in Denver (remember he’s just out of jail) that he’d never have lasted with the Bulls. Anyone who has watched the organization at all should know that. Plus, Skiles didn’t want any part of him and at the time the Bulls were wedded to Skiles’ style. Get something for him? It wasn’t like he had much value practically being run out of New Orleans and Byron Scott saying he was uncoachable. I liked Brown, the local kid, but the Bulls had too many guards and had to even let Thabo go. He never would have gotten time with Rose, Ben and Kirk around. Plus, they were loaded with too small shooters. The Lakers didn’t even really want him, but he was a throw in to even salaries and were actually more interested in Morrison. They were surprised as well.

I think the Bulls should stick to the plan and try for Wade, LBJ, Bosh, Johnson, etc this summer. However, if that doesn't work, can they resign Brad Miller for what he makes today? I know this is probably 10x his market value. But - if the free agent thing doesn't work, can they resign Brad for 1 year and trade him in 2011? Seems like someone looking to dump a contract (Brand, Kaman, etc) would still be interested near the trade deadline in 2011. Is it possible to resign and trade a guy like Brad? If so, why don't more teams do it (besides the obvious it costs $12 million to hope for a trade partner the following year).

Nate Coate

Sam: Yes, the obvious covers that as you think you are smart enough to spend the money on guys who can play instead of cap holders. If the summer plan doesn’t work, the larger issue is you get in position where you have to sign other players, like Tyrus, to have a team and then you aren’t under anymore. There has been some talks on the Knicks if doing something like that and if you can’t get two guys this summer wait for Carmelo and maybe Chris Paul. But it’s would be a tough sell to your fans who pay a lot of money and as the new saying goes don’t want to watch cap space.

I have my own wild proposal to salvage the Chicago Bulls. Just about
everyone and their mother knows that Mike Brown is the coach of the
Cavs in title only, seeing as King James is the real leader of that
team. LeBron's unique superstar ability to make other players better
and the team better as a whole comes from his very high basketball IQ
and innate knowledge of the game. Knowing this, coupled with the fact
that the Bulls have the option to renew his contract or let him go
after this season, would it be possible in any way to hire LeBron as a
player-coach? We should have enough money to make a run at him, but
it will be a tough sell with the other options on the market and the
MJ shadow; however, maybe the prospect of coaching a team with a PG of
the future and solid role players in Deng and Noah (not to mention
what looks like a lottery pick in a very strong draft) could sway him
to come to Chicago. Yes, this is an outlandish idea with all kinds of
ramifications on team chemistry and I'm not sure if it is even
possible...but you only get one shot at LeBron.


Alex Banzhaf

Sam: It is interesting, though not as coach. Perhaps saying he can bring the coach. I doubt the Bulls would do anything like that as they are not an organization that historically has put the team in the players’ hands, even Michael Jordan. And if they had, the player generally wants just his friends around. And that hasn’t worked out great for Michael in Washington and Charlotte. The Knicks free agency plan basically has been try to get two max slots available to bring a player and have him bring whomever he wants. I do think the Bulls are one of the teams with a shot at LeBron given relatively limited options. But I don’t think coaches matter that much to these guys as they always figure they’ll outlast the coach, anyway. Plus being coach is way too much work, even if you are a figurehead. Now if LeBron said he’s come only with Brown, I’d go for that. He is the prize of next summer.

I liked your thinking on the David West trade proposal you brought up a little while ago. Mainly because with the way things are going this season, I don't see a major free agent choosing the Bulls in 2010 unless we bring in another major player to improve the team before then. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So here's a perhaps risky proposal for making our team more attractive by 2010: trade Loul Deng and Tyrus Thomas for Elton Brand. I know there are plenty of objections to be made, but bear with me a minute.

What we have here are what appears to be two really really bad contracts (Deng's and Brand's) that both teams would be motivated to move if given the chance -- in Philadelphia's case in particular, given all of Brand's critiques of the coaching and players in the media (that line about Mikki Moore was priceless) -- but with seemingly nowhere to move them to.

I think this would satisfy both teams. It makes sense from Philly's perspective, in that Deng fits their offense much better than Brand -- I could see him playing up-tempo with their young players and getting a lot of open jumpers; Thomas maybe just needs a change of location to flourish, and he'll be highly motivated in this contract year. I don't think Philly can expect to do much better than this in a deal involving Brand. From the Bulls' perspective, its clearly a riskier choice. We'd be essentially betting that Brand, given adequate playing time and emphasis in the offense, could put up the 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks he's average during his career, over the second half of this season. I think a line-up Rose, Hinrich, Salmons, Brand, Noah would be good enough to get the Bulls back into contention this season and make them much more attractive to Wade or Joe Johnson next season. The deal brings the Bulls in at about $43 million in guaranteed contracts for next season (including Salmons' option), which should be enough to land one major free agent.

Ryan Gastafson

Sam: You are right. People would condemn it and say Elton’s older and slower and overpaid. The biggest issue is with the salary difference and the ability to renounce Thomas it probably would put the Bulls out of the free agency chase next summer, so I doubt they’d ever seriously consider it. We all have a soft spot for Brand and he’s had some good games lately. I think he would work some with Noah as he can step out and make a shot and can pick and pop. The Philly side is you are right, I think they’d be willing to give him up now the way he has clashed with Jordan. Another issue is Iguodala really is a three and while Deng could prosper in their style, he’s more sixth man for them. He’s paid too much for that. And it’s less known that while Deng number is high on the cap, it’s really in cash not worth that much with so much deferred money. So the Bulls would be taking on a huge fortune, which I cannot see for a guy they traded eight years ago.

I know its a couple of months away, but I was wondering how a location for the all-star game is selected and why hasn't it been in Chicago for 21 years?

Richard Ly

Sam: And it’s not coming. The Bulls have not requested the game, which you have to do, because the league takes all the tickets for sponsors and the home team fans don’t get tickets. Also, the league has now decided to stay in warm weather cities for the games as a mid-winter break for all us hard working types who spend our lives going to basketball games.

I know that knicks are desperate to rid themselves of jared jeffries contract. My question is, how desperate? would they be desperate enough to package him with david lee in return for james, gray, and tyrus? i know they like tyrus, and in james and gray they can easily rid themselves of almost $8M next year. tyrus could be resigned for less than lee so that would help their offseason plans to bring in a couple of max contract players. i wouldn't mind harbouring jeffries (he's a better 5th big man than gray) for a year to get lee on the team. we could resign lee for about $8-10M with some of miller's excess and still have some cash for other moves.

Dan Irinberg

Sam: I suppose it’s one possibility, though you can sign Lee if you went that way without giving up anything and then maybe keep Tyrus. The issue is by taking on Jeffries the Bulls wouldn’t be in position to make that max offer anymore. It’s in question now with Salmons’ situation, though it would be over taking on Jeffries. The Knicks have looked to move Jeffries, but I’d hate to see him around as he can’t score at all and the Bulls have enough of those issues. I heard it was Hinrich the Knicks were trying to get for Jeffries not Tyrus for Harrington. The Bulls aren’t about to be taking on contracts, and shouldn’t be unless it’s a player you want to go forward with like Bosh or maybe David West.

Please help. The Bulls are literally killing me. They lose every night and put me in a bad mood. Now my girlfriend is mad too because I'm no fun after they lose. It's time for a shake up. We need some new blood.

Benjamin N. Breyer MD

Sam: I’m hoping you don’t have the games on in surgery. What the heck, you’re insured. This gives a whole new meaning to the slice/cut call on offense. Wish you weren’t taking it that seriously. I don’t think Jerome James is that upset after they lose. Tell your girlfriend I’ll check to see if he’s married.

The Knicks were giving the Bulls 6 points tonite. That reviewed call with no time left and the game out of reach, gave them two extra points allowing them to cover. I'm not saying whether or not refs can control the outcome...but this doesn't help the NBA image. It made absolutley no sense to review that call and grant them two free throws.

I'd like to mention that after the game was over (or while they were waiting for the stupid officials to decide on that last call) Rose sat on the scorer's table and looked like he was about to cry he was so upset. I'll take that kid on my team no matter how bad his defense is. After that loss, I got mad at my wife and didn't talk say a word for the next ten minutes. It's a shame because he's been playing well, I just hated seeing that type of attitude after two horrible losses like that. I hate being a Bulls fan.

Jason Quaid

Sam: That was an awful ending and it seemed to me more the result of incompetent officials than anything inappropriate. But to happen in New York was embarrassing. That is more the issue with officials, guys who don’t understand the flow of the game and decide they are going to enforce a rulebook. While I generally support the officials, one problem now versus 30 years ago was the guys then had a better feel for the game and went with the flow while today’s younger guys tend to be pushed into a box to over interpret the rule book. As for Rose, you’ve got it. He does care way more than you can even imagine. It’s why next summer is so crucial. You’ve got to get him with talented and committed veterans he can lean on and work with. Though I think the women of America may not want this to change so much as with the losing they seem to be able to get some peace and quiet.

I have a story for you to share. Firstly Joakim Noah is an amazing guy. He is becoming a star and is a very humble guy. I met him for the first time after the Knicks game the other nite. Great man, and truly appreciates his fans. I say this because of my story i have to share with you. So after the Bulls game I stood at the exit ramp of the UC to get autographs; mainly Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. I waited in the cold for a very long time and finally Rose drove up in his Porche (the SUV). I had a sign that said all that I want for X-mas is a Derrick Rose autograph on my jersey. BUT he drove up and turned out and immediately left.

Well, i just had faith in Joakim Noah that he would stop and he did. I gave him my jersey and the note and he said hed get it signed. It was amazing. the moral of the story is this. Simply have faith in the bulls if you're a fan. because they will do well and get the job done. Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you do not see. I have faith in our Bulls.

Dominic Chambers

Sam: Good for you. I hope you are rewarded. Noah has been a changed man the last year and I’m thrilled to hear what he did, whether he gets you that autograph or not. It’s an old issue and I’ll tell you few were worse at signing autographs than Jordan and Pippen because of the demands. One big issue is so many fans have begun to take advantage of the players by getting autographs and selling them. I’d like to see guys interact with fans more as it’s a lifetime memory for most fans, but I also understand how they can be taken advantage of. I’ll tell you Derrick is one of the more genuine guys who’s come along in a long time. Though he is a bit shy. I’ve never seen him turn down interview requests or act rude to anyone no matter the occasion. But Noah is more a people person and I’m glad to see him having gotten over his bitterness of his first two seasons with the Bulls and let his personality show. It’s a good one.

What did Norm always say: 48 minutes of intensity? Well someone must have told the bulls against the Kings that he used to say 24 minutes.

Mike Sutera

Sam: Norm would have been even more appalled than the rest of us. All that post game lacked was a classic Norm rant. We all miss him and Johnny Red.